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Taking care of the not so young

Last year, a bill prohibiting discrimination against any individual in employment on account of age lapsed into law.

Republic Act 10911 makes it unlawful for an employer to publish any advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications, and discrimination based on age. It also prohibits declining any employment application because of the individual’s age; discriminating against an individual in terms of compensation, terms and conditions or privileges of employment on account of such individual’s age; denying any employee’s or worker’s promotion or opportunity for training because of age; forcibly laying off an employee or worker because of old age, among others.

However, the law provides that age limitations in employment are lawful if age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary in the normal operation of a particular business.

The concerned government agencies, however, have yet to issue the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10911.

While the law as written is a step in the right direction as it aims to reduce discrimination in the workplace, there is still no assurance that older people will be hired.

Under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, senior citizens who have the capacity and desire to work, or be reemployed, shall be provided information and matching services to enable them to be productive members of society.

The IRR of the said law encourages private establishments and employers to hire senior citizens to fill up at least three percent of their manpower requirements.

Rule V Article 13 Sec. 2 of said IRR provides that private entities that shall employ senior citizens as employees shall be entitled to an additional deduction from their gross income equivalent to 15 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to senior citizens, provided that such employment shall continue for at least six months and provided that the net annual income of the senior citizen does not exceed the poverty level for that year.

The law, therefore, targets senior citizens belonging to the poorest of the poor.

But how about senior citizens who belong to the low to middle-income segment who want to remain as productive members of society? How about those between 50 to 59 years of age, say manual laborers who no longer gets hired because their work clearly requires a younger age as qualification? They do not qualify as senior citizens because they have not reached the age of 60. But they are not likely to get hired even if the law prohibits discrimination based on age.

Clearly, our pensions are not enough to take care of our needs during our old age. While there are those who say that people should start to learn that pensions should not be the only source of funds for retired people, investing for the future is not in the vocabulary of those who have a hand-to-mouth existence, those whose salaries or wages are barely enough to meet their family’s needs.

Therefore, it makes sense to make it mandatory for both the public and private sector to make sure that a certain percentage of their workforce belongs, say, to the 50-70 age bracket. Government should provide additional incentives to their employers in the form of tax credits.

In the United States, they have the Work Opportunity Tax Credit under the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 that is available to employers that hire veterans.

If our government cannot afford to give our senior citizens a decent pension that will allow them to live comfortably, then it should at least give these citizens an opportunity to keep working and earn their own money.

Here’s an interesting article from seniormag.com on why it makes good sense to hire seniors:

“Employers are now starting to figure out what seniors have known all along – seniors make great employees!

Companies such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and McDonalds have certainly led the way, but now other employers are also starting to figure it out as well, and new avenues for seniors to find willing employers are starting to hit the surface.

Why hire seniors?

Seniors have had to learn to adjust to life’s circumstances. In most cases, they have learned adaptation techniques that their younger counterparts will not develop for years to come. Here are just a few of the things you will discover about hiring seniors:

First, seniors are a very loyal market that comprises 25 percent of the population, is growing and controls 77 percent of the financial resources in the United States. Many of your customers are over age 50. Hiring seniors also shows that you are interested in serving this market. For the most part, your clients are far more comfortable with people that are their own age. Since many businesses don’t put seniors out in front where they are visible, doing so will make your business stand out. Hire senior employees to attract senior customers away from the competition;

Second, seniors are generally more reliable. They’ve done their job-hopping and they don’t have sick kids at home or have to make an emergency rush to the school to pick-up junior who has a fever;

Third, seniors take their jobs more seriously. They understand that jobs for seniors are a bit harder to get and therefore, their jobs are worth more to them. How much does it cost you to hire and train an employee and how much does it cost you if you have to fire someone? Your turnover rate is lower with seniors and so therefore, your employee acquisition and training costs are cheaper.

Fourth, seniors know that every job isn’t perfect and have had the experience of working with, and for people that aren’t perfect. They also know that your customers are not perfect, and have had to learn to deal with it all. Seniors rarely leave jobs because things are not perfect.

Fifth, seniors are generally cheaper to hire, even if you pay them a higher wage. For all the reasons mentioned here, seniors stay at one job far longer than do their younger counterparts, they have more experience to draw from and are therefore, easier to train.

Sixth, while seniors are no strangers to romance, they aren’t pining away and flirting over at the water cooler or in the hallway with the latest hire. Emotionally stable employees work better and are more reliable.

Seventh, seniors haven’t gotten so many years behind them without learning some very valuable lessons. These are lessons that some new kid with the lip ring won’t even know about for another 20 years.

Eighth, seniors may not be as strong or as fast as some of their younger counterparts. However, if you provide them with the proper tools and a bit of assistance for those rare heavy tasks, they will probably get the job done faster, better and without the supervision that would otherwise be necessary.

Ninth, seniors still remember and understand the effect of common courtesy and customer service. They understand that customers are not a nuisance, but the reason that they have a job in the first place.

And lastly, their work ethic is more evolved. Most know the value of a smile and a handshake in making and retaining customers. They have learned that their job is not guaranteed and that taking care of a customer is far easier than finding a new job.”

For comments, e-mail at philstarhiddenagenda@yahoo.com

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